If I could take a walk through Palais Garnier every day I think I would be the happiest person in the world. I get chills every time I’m in the building – it’s that beautiful. On Friday I visited again and must say, without a lot of other visitors it was simply stunning. I hope the photos will make you feel like you’re taking a virtual tour of Palais Garnier. I’m especially excited to share few special behind the scenes moments like the Palais Garnier water reservoir and fish as well as the rarely seen Foyer de la Danse.
One of the biggest silver linings of this strange time has been being able to take advantage of a relatively empty Paris. I’ve revisited a lot of my favorite spots from the Musée du Louvre (post coming soon) to Musée de l’Orangerie and Musée d’Orsay.
Palais Garnier is at the very top of my list of places that I think everyone who comes to Paris should see. It oozes Parisian opulence. There’s so much to see from the Chagall ceiling and the Grand Foyer to the staircase and all of the decorative details in-between. And all of those things go to the next level with a behind the scenes tour.
Palais Garnier Behind the Scenes Tour
Last December Romain surprised me with a behind the scenes tour of Palais Garnier. We went literally everywhere top to bottom in the building. It was an incredible experience and something I’ll never forget. The only *tiny* bummer was access to the auditorium was limited because it was a rehearsal day. Luckily I’ve seen the room and Chagall ceiling many times before, but when booking a visit it’s something to keep in mind.
On Friday, we had full access to the auditorium. Without a lot of visitors we could stop and enjoy the space for as long as we wanted. Pictures don’t do it justice.
We were also lucky to have a modified version of the behind the scenes tour again. They cancelled the 2020 season so we couldn’t go upstairs to see the dance studios. I have plenty of photos from December here.
Palais Garnier Water Reservoir and Fish
We still got to see the Palais Garnier fish that live in the “lake” below the stage – it really does exist! Architect Charles Garnier incorporated the water reservoir in his original plans.
Palais Garnier sits on marshy land, so there was a problem with controlling the high groundwater. Garnier came up with the water reservoir as a solution to control the groundwater and redistribute the pressure on the basement walls. It also provides a reserve of water in case of a fire and firefighters use it as a place to practice swimming in the dark.
The firefighters also take care of the Palais Garnier fish (and one eel), located in a separate smaller water tank in the basement. They feed the fish daily and rumor has it that they add a fish to the group when one of their own is lost in the line of duty. I think it’s such a sweet tribute.
Palais Garnier Foyer de la Danse
The stage is currently closed off, but we did get to go behind the stage to the rarely seen Foyer de la Danse. Even though it was dark when we visited, this dance warmup room looks like a smaller version of the Grand Foyer. In the 19th century, it was a space where only a few select financial subscribers of the Opera would meet with dancers. Couches line the room – I’ll let you use your imagination there. It also inspired impressionist painter Edgar Degas.
I can’t wait to hopefully visit again and see the space fully lit up.
I’ll take any opportunity I get to visit and walk through Palais Garnier, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I hope you enjoyed our modified virtual tour of Palais Garnier. If you’re interested in taking a tour on a future Paris trip, don’t hesitate to contact me here!